In a recent report Constellation Research stated that since 2000 more than half of all Fortune 500 companies in the US have gone bankrupt, no longer exist, been acquired or dropped off the list, a result they say of digital technology disrupting traditional business models and companies being too slow to react to the impact. You can download the accompanying White Paper here, it makes interesting reading.
So is this a problem for your business? If so, how can you, as a marketer or business manager, mitigate against and take advantage of this disruption?
Marketing has always evolved but generally at a steady, more sedate pace. With recent changes to the internet and the massive impact of social media the rate of change within the digital environment has accelerated at an alarming pace.
This in turn has implications in five key areas that ultimately affect your business:
- Access to technology
Technology has significantly changed buyer behaviour and expectations. How we search for solutions to our problems, how we buy our products and services, how we listen to music and how we bank, have all been influenced by the internet and social media in ways we hadn’t considered not too long ago. Almost everyone owns a smartphone and easy and quick access to information is making people less tolerant of delays and marketing fluff and they’re less likely to jump through hoops to get what they want.
- Buyer behaviour
The changing behaviour of our customers in turn affects how we decide on the channels we use to market to this audience, there is no point in continuing to buy print ads or attend those tradeshows if your target market is searching for solutions online. Times are changing and we have to evolve with the times. If your target audience are beginning to move online and the results from your traditional methods are not having the same impact, don’t bury your head in the sand and say “but we’ve always done it this way” As Einstein said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
- Digital marketing
Keeping on top of these changes, the channels available and how to use them, is difficult even for marketers actively involved in promoting their business. As more platforms come on-stream, the problem grows and with industry predicting a shortage of digital expertise in the years to come now is the time to invest in staff training.
- Digital technology
The continuing development of digital technology has shortened the product life cycle for many products. In 2014 Apple launched 2 new smartphones, Motorola released 11, HTC launched a whopping 27 and Samsung and LG released a mind boggling 97 models between them (source Arstechnica). Many companies are using the power of the internet and social media to elicit research information from their customers to feed into new product development programmes. If your competitors are doing this and you’re not, you may be at a disadvantage.
- Barriers to entry
Traditional barriers to entry are falling or disappearing completely with previously unknown players entering markets and quickly establishing a presence. Blockbuster went bankrupt because it didn’t pay attention to online video streaming services available from Netflix, Kodak went bankrupt because it didn’t react to digital technology and the list goes on.
The size and turnover of a company is not directly proportional to whether they make the correct decisions. In many cases being large can be detrimental to getting decisions made quickly. This provides an opportunity for smaller, agile competitors to steal a march on their larger rivals. But to do so means having an awareness and understanding of the online tools available and like all successful businesses, having a plan to drive that success.
Digital disruption is happening NOW and if you don’t want to be a victim perhaps now is the time to start looking from the outside in and not from the inside out. Perhaps now is the time for you to disrupt your own business before a competitor does.
6 ways to mitigate against digital disruption
- Audit your business and marketing processes
Stand in your customers’ shoes and start to think of better ways to do things that would make it easier for your customers and prospects to deal with you. Ask difficult questions, if it were easy everyone would be doing it. Make improvements that would be difficult for your competition to follow.
- Create a plan for success
Without a plan you’re likely to veer off course and end up somewhere but probably not where you want to be. You need to draw a line in the sand and identify where you currently stand or else whenever you introduce improvements you’ll not be able to benchmark your success. Create a written plan with SMART objectives and identify Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and metrics to measure progress.
- Set up a listening post
The companies mentioned in the Constellation Research report did not operate in a vacuum. The information they needed was available in the marketplace, they either missed it or chose to ignore it. There are free tools available to help you keep abreast of what’s going on in your industry. Create a listening post using Hootesuite, Google Alerts and Social Mention. Use Survey Monkey to ask your customers for feedback and advice on how to improve your offer (but make sure you act on the feedback). Get your sales staff to have regular discussions with key customers on what’s good and bad about dealing with your company. Don’t be afraid to ASK.
- Get up-to-speed with digital marketing
For the vast majority of businesses the key issue is getting the right balance between traditional and digital marketing. This impacts the allocation of budget and resources. Once you have an understanding of the channels your audience are using make sure someone in the business has a grasp of digital marketing techniques such as search engine marketing (SEO and PPC), content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing and marketing strategy. Don’t leave it to the recent graduate just become they’re comfortable on Facebook (and your not). This is a strategic management issue.
- Actively engage with your audience
The rules of the game have changed and marketing is no longer about broadcasting out your message to the many in the (vain) hope of attracting the few. Social media provides us with the tools to get close to our audience and have one to one discussions in a way that was not possible before. It takes time and effort and it’s not a silver bullet but getting closer to your audience should mean being more aware of what’s happening in your markets and industry with fewer surprises on the horizon.
- Introduce a process of continuous improvement
The changes don’t have to be cataclysmic, continuous small steps targeting the low hanging opportunities can pay dividends.
Don’t let your business suffer death by digital disruption
Keeping on top of everything that’s available can be confusing and downright difficult. Rame Marketing offers a number of one-to-one and group training courses and workshops to bring you up-to-speed on a range of subjects. Our courses cover:
- Marketing Strategy
- Digital Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Google Analytics
Our principal trainer, Andrew Leon Walker, has an MA in Marketing from Plymouth University Business School, is a CIM Chartered Marketer, a Hubspot Certified Inbound Marketer, a Google Partner and a graduate of Google’s Squared Online Digital Marketing Programme. He has provided digital training programmes on behalf of Superfast Business and the CIM.
If you’re involved in marketing, managing a business or just need your digital marketing skills brought up-to-date, call 01803 413481 or email [email protected].